DOMESTICITY; OR, HER LIFE AS A DOG
The good Earl of Shaftesbury once said: "Domestic life, by
the all-merciful Providence of God, is the refuge and stronghold of
morality: the honour, dignity, and mainstay of nations. "How well
this great truth has been understood in "England's Royal Home"
we need not say. The Queen's household has been—what every
palace should be—a model home.
—Charles Bullock, 1897
Given the English love of dogs, it is not surprising that Queen Victoria should be associated with them. There is more to the association than simple sentiment. Many cultural historians find direct relationships between eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English attitudes toward animals, colonial subjects, women, and the lower classes. Her intimate friendships with dogs, her own womanly service to her realm, and the "ethnic" servants in her Household form a loose pattern of interconnections that compare to representations of Victorian home life.1 By considering the Victorian monarchy as both constructing and being constructed by these attitudes, and by giving precedence to the animal perspective, one might devise a fable of Queen Victoria's life as a dog.
When would one begin such a fable? Would it be in 1835, when the Princess and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, became patrons of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)? (Five years later Queen Victoria permitted the SPCA to affix "Royal" to its name.2) Or would it be 1837, when on June 20 Victoria became Queen of England and also owner of Edwin Landseer's painting, Dash, a "pet portrait," a genre that would become associated with her? The year